The Missouri legislative session ended earlier this month.
We advocated on many issues in the concluding weeks of the session. We worked on legislation that would have limited the Board of Governors’ ability to regulate the possession of firearms on campus.
We also worked on legislation that would have increased reporting requirements for universities, legislation designed to regulate academic credit for students who take advanced placement exams and numerous other bills.
None of this legislation — or any other legislation that would have substantially impacted our operations at Missouri State University — passed this year.
Thanks to our state legislators
Our team also advocated for Missouri State in the state budget.
The legislature passed a budget that holds core funding flat for all public universities. A portion of this funding is contingent on the federal government extending a Medicaid stimulus program. We will remain engaged with our federal leaders on this issue.
Passing a budget that includes flat funding for universities in the current economic environment was not an easy task. I want to say a special thanks to Sens. Dan Hegeman and Lincoln Hough, Reps. Elijah Haahr, Curtis Trent and Cody Smith, and our entire legislative delegation for supporting Missouri State in this difficult budget year.
State budget witholdings
The budget now moves to Gov. Mike Parson for his signature or veto.
You will recall that Parson announced a $7.6 million withhold for Missouri State in April. Additional withholds will likely occur before this fiscal year ends on June 30.
Parson has indicated the budget passed by the legislature for next fiscal year includes hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that the state will not likely receive. We anticipate additional withholds being announced for next fiscal year to close this gap. Those withholds could occur as early as July.
We remain engaged with the governor and his staff to advocate that withholds be spread throughout state government and not disproportionately impact higher education.
Outlook of FY2021 budget
Despite uncertainty in state funding and enrollment, we must establish the university’s budget for next fiscal year.
The Board of Governors discussed the FY2021 budget at their meetings earlier this month.
The board approved a CPI increase of 2.3% in tuition and fees for the 2020-21 academic year. This increase, along with the tuition and fees waived last year, will generate $4.6 million in new revenue.
We also have $3.2 million in revenue carried forward from last year’s appropriation increase. Through $2.9 million in spending reductions that have already been implemented, we have more than offset our unavoidable expense increases for next fiscal year.
However, enrollment declines will have a dramatic impact on our budget. Before the pandemic, we anticipated a decline of 834 students due to the second year of large graduating classes. This decline alone will result in $5.9 million in reduced revenue, plus an additional $1.3 million in reduced auxiliary support.
We took several steps earlier this year to counteract this enrollment decline. We waived the application fee, joined the Common App, and implemented a series of recruitment and retention strategies.
Enrollment indicators showed that these strategies were working before the pandemic hit and the environment shifted. These same indicators have now become mixed, pointing to an anticipated enrollment decline that will likely exceed the projected 834 student drop.
This enrollment uncertainty, along with the likelihood of a state funding withhold, means we must further reduce expenses for the FY2021 budget.
Principles for FY2021 budget
The board approved principles that we will follow when developing the FY2021 budget.
Under these principles, we will utilize the following factors when evaluating all FY2021 cost savings options:
- Potential to generate substantial savings
- Impact on the university’s mission. Mission considerations include:
- Academic quality and accreditation
- Student success
- Student experience
- Inclusive excellence
- Public profile
- Impact on employees and workforce morale
- Impact on university risk and compliance
- Impact on university’s ability to generate revenue
- Improve efficiency and processes
The FY2021 budget will also include strategic investments to support revenue and the university’s mission. The overall need to generate substantial savings will be considered when evaluating all strategic investment options.
As always, we will use a transparent process that seeks input from stakeholders when developing this year’s budget.
Virtual Town Hall
Last week we held a Virtual Town Hall meeting to seek input from faculty and staff on the budget and other matters. If you missed the meeting, you can view the recording of the meeting on the town hall webpage.
Please send any input or questions about the FY2021 budget or any other matter to me at email@example.com.
At the board meeting and the town hall, we presented a budget scenario that we plan to modify and build upon in the coming weeks.
This scenario includes $10.2 million in new cost saving measures that will be incorporated in the FY2021 budget that I will present to the board in June.
These measures include:
- Freezing 68 open positions (see my prior Clif’s Notes for details)
- Eliminating internet incentives payments for faculty
- Delaying the opening of the new residence hall
- Reducing the operating budget allocation for facility repairs and classroom upgrades
We have additional cost saving measures that could be implemented after the board approves the budget. We would implement these measures only as necessary depending on the extent of our revenue decline.
These measures include:
- Further reducing the operating budget allocation for facility repairs and classroom upgrades
- Reducing operating budget allocations for academic equipment and the president’s enhancement fund
- Reducing travel budgets
- Spending $4 million in university reserves
Through these supplemental measures, we believe we can reduce expenses by an additional $6.5 million.
If our revenue declines by more than $16.7 million, we will then be forced to evaluate options for employee furloughs and/or layoffs.
Recognizing good work by faculty, staff, students
The board also discussed the university’s response to the coronavirus and our efforts to reopen the campus.
The board approved inductees into the university’s Wall of Fame. They will be inducted at a ceremony in October. This year’s inductees are:
- Michael Carlie, professor of criminology
- Dean Karen Horny, dean of libraries
- Paul Kincaid, chief of staff
- Marcia Morriset, assistant director of the Honors College
- Howard Orms, professor of theatre and dance
- Judi Smith, director, development and alumni
The board also offered commendations to outgoing leaders of SGA, Faculty Senate and Staff Senate. Leaders receiving commendations include:
- Saibal Mitra, chair of Faculty Senate
- A’dja Jones, chair of Staff Senate
- Abdillahi Dirie, president of SGA
- Ethan Schroeder, vice president of SGA
I want to say a special thanks to each of you. Our university is better because of your service, and I will miss working with you.
The board also approved action items related to campus facilities, including:
- Documents necessary to close financing on the JVIC expansion project
- An amendment to allow the university to delay receiving the new residence hall until next summer
- A facilities use agreement to facilitate the national headquarters for the Student African American Brotherhood relocating to our campus
- Wyrick fund expenditures approved by a student vote to combine the Multicultural Resource Center and the MRC Annex into one facility on the first floor of Plaster Student Union
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!